They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but what else are you meant to judge it by when there are so many to choose from? I’m here to help you with that (hopefully). I have read a book or two in my time and I really like to talk on and on about things I enjoy. So I’m going to tell you about some books I have read, with minimal spoilers, to help you out if you are looking for something to read, or not read.
Girl Online by Zoe Sugg
Novel aimed at a young adult audience
Genre: Romance and Drama
Here I am, a female, writing about a book on the internet. Said book is about a female who writes on the internet. Said book is written by a girl who writes on the internet for a living. Does that make any sense? Basically, huge internet celebrity Zoe Sugg released a book, and I have read it and want to talk about it. I presume some of you internet dwellers (? can I call you that?) would have at least heard about it. If not, are you serious? The book broke the record for the highest sales for a debut author in a week of release. There are rumours of a ghostwriter being involved and some people are a little too pissed off.
To start I am going to address the elephant in the room, the conjecture of the book being written by a ghostwriter. Some people are pissed off that a book was written by a ghostwriter to be sold to the masses using Zoe’s fame, or that the ghostwriter has not been given due credit. Some believe that Zoe only had help from an editorial team to help bring it to life. And I think everyone else does not give an actual shit. I don’t know how I feel about this because it is all speculation. I differ between feelings, if she just had a little help, all good. If someone wrote this for her, I’m pissed. But since I don’t know, I’m just going to focus on the book as a book and if I enjoyed it or not.
Brief teaser: Girl Online revolves around Penny, a 15 year old girl with a blog (who has more followers than I could ever dream of at 5432, just another 5400 to go!). She blogs about school, boys, friends and her feelings of anxiety. After an embarrassing incident at school goes viral her anxiety develops into panic attacks. She escapes to America with her parents over Christmas and meets a boy, Noah. After a perfect Christmas she returns home where her secret blog and Noah’s secret threatens to ruin everything.
I’d recommend it to a younger age group than myself, for preteens. Fans of Zoella (Zoe Sugg) should enjoy it as it is just as sweet and sugary and all things nice as Zoella. It is a short and easy read, and fun if you enjoy that kind of stuff.
SPOILERS ONWARDS || SPOILERS ONWARDS || SPOILERS ONWARDS
I’m going to say this now, I found it very difficult to enjoy this book. I think that I wanted to like it more than I actually did. Here are my reasons why.
Firstly, the characters were way too predictable for my liking. They were the stock standard Young Adult fiction book characters.You have the perfect main character, Penny, with no personality flaws and zero negative character traits. The only thing wrong in her life is her panic attacks and anxiety which is out of her control. Then you the hilarious side kick starring as Elliot, the stereotypical gay best friend. Then you have her awesome parents, who are immensely clueless but their hearts are in the right place. And lastly there are the idiots she goes to school with. Her really shallow crush who is cute but quite the arsehole, and her bitchy ex best friend. The characters were either really nice and therefore on her side, or they were really bitchy to her for no good reason. It felt like a children’s book where all good guys wear white, and all baddies in black.
Secondly, the romance portrayed in the book was completely unrealistic. I realise that this is a big call to make from someone that who reads Dramione fanfiction (if you don’t know what it is, keep it that way), but this was one of the most unfeasible love stories I’ve ever read. Penny and Noah, at ages 15 and 19 respectively, fell in love within a few hours of meeting each other. I’m going to ignore just how creepy that is, instead focusing on how that just doesn’t happen. They were telling each other secrets and personal family traditions really really quickly. And somehow her parents were completely ok with their 15 daughter running around a foreign country with a 19 year old. Despite much of the creepiness it was still quite cute to read.
And the last element that really annoyed me was that everything was so convenient and perfectly timed. Elliot was just able to come along to America, with everything paid for? Too easy. Anytime Noah and Penny needed alone time for the story the best friend Elliot just happened to be doing something else. I don’t enjoy books where the story changes everything. Penny didn’t have some fault that ruined something, everyone else’s faults affected her life.
However, one aspect I really appreciated was the inclusion of panic attacks and anxiety. I have read few books with this even alluded to so it was very refreshing to have it included as an integral part of the book. It is a cause that is very important to the author and that was made apparent whilst reading.
As much as I nitpicked at this book, that’s not to say it was a bad read. The story line and characters were very predictable, but I’m sure there are many readers out there where this is new. It was a very sugary read, a little too sweet and sickening for my taste, but hey I might of really enjoyed it when I was younger. If you go in expecting something fun, light and short, you’ll be happy.